5 steps to developing an insight-led successful communication plan
So, you’re asked to develop a smash-hit communication campaign with great activities and actions.
Where do you start? It can feel incredibly daunting but don’t panic. Think of these five steps you need to follow. This helps break down what you need to do, so you don’t feel you have to achieve everything at once.
It’s not possible to try and create something without any measurement or benchmarks and insight from the offset. This leads me to the first step you need to take.
First, you need to understand your stakeholders. These are people who can influence or interest in your campaign and its results. They’re able to provide you with key information, connect you to key people, have financial and decision-making roles and responsibilities.
Some examples of stakeholders are:
- Leadership teams
- Functional leaders
- Line managers
- Local community
When mapping out your stakeholders, you need to understand which ones need to be kept informed regularly, involved in campaign decisions, or updated less frequently. Once you understand which ones you need to keep close, you’re able to gather further insight and information.
Once your stakeholders have been mapped, you can now start understanding their perspective of the campaigns, what they feel are the most important aspect and actions. This helps to give more insight into what the most vital outcomes are to achieve following successful campaigns.
Through this insight, you’re able to understand the bigger picture, how everything needs to piece together, and how your campaign fits into the business strategy and what needs to be done to get there.
The right data
You can’t put a truly effective campaign together without the right data.
There are three key components communication campaigns need before any plan, activities or actions can be developed.
- Situation analysis
- Audience analysis
- Project analysis
This helps you understand the context of the campaign, what needs to change, what’s the problem, who’s affected, and if any factors are blocking or helping the change or campaign success
You need to understand who your audience is, the demographic of your audience, what they see as the benefits, concerns, ideas. How do you engage them and if there are any blockers within your audience groups?
You need to understand the realistic campaign projections, what are the benefits, level of change, who’s affected, how they’re affected, who are for the change, who could be again the change. You need to understand the gap analysis between where the business is with their behaviours and where they need to be following the campaign.
Once all this information is gathered then you’ll be in a position to move onto step three.
Developing your strategy
First, you need to set the scene. What is the campaign, its purpose, why are you doing it, what do you hope to achieve, who’s affected? This helps to summarise the situation, the context, the audience and the project and campaign analysis.
You need to know your audience. Who are they? Who’s affected? How does your campaign affect your audience groups?
Look at breaking down your audience so you’re able to later target your communication to specific groups based on topic, geography, seniority, priority, function, instruction, action required and training.
A lot of this work will have been completed in the prerequisite audience analysis, but this further grouping helps you to focus on communication tactics and content.
Examples of audience groups:
- Office location
- Line managers
- Leadership boards
Vision and objectives
To make sure the communication plan and content stays on track, you need to have a communication vision and objectives. This will help to establish your key messaging.
The communication vision is not the same as the business or project vision. They need to be aligned, but they must be focused from a communication point of view.
So, how do you get these objectives?
First, you look at what the business objectives and the project objectives are. Look at how communication can support these objectives, how can communication help achieve these? What actions can be done to help?
Once you have this piece of work done, you can look at all the actions and understand the themes which appear.
To help keep on track, alongside the communication objectives, you need a strategic narrative.
This is a paragraph or a couple of paragraphs clearly defining the purpose, objectives, aims and benefits of your campaign.
This is not just for your benefit to create this narrative. This means that anyone involved or working on the campaign can quickly share and spread the word, reciting to other employees what this campaign is about.
It’s an unbelievably valuable component of your strategy. Make use of it.
To ensure that your communications and content are all aligned you must set out key messages. These should be focused on the campaign, its aim, the ‘What’s In It For Me’ (WIIFM) factors and context.
These should be specific to the campaign, aligned to the communication and campaign objectives and the overall business strategy.
Next, you need to understand how employees should receive the communications.
- What channels are used in your business?
- Which are the most popular and have the biggest impact?
- What information needs to be available before communication goes out to employees?
Relook at your channel mix, understand which channels suit your campaign. Is it a serious, formal campaign? Or is it information and social-focused? Does this change which channels you would use?
Have a think about which channels should be used to connect with your employees:
- Social media platform
- Virtual events
Understand the quantitative measurements for your channels to understand which are the most impactful, what the demographic uptake is, then you’ll be able to decide which is the most suitable for the type of communication you send out.
Planning out activities
Before setting out your communication plan, put together a plan of activities. This will help guide you in what needs to be fed into the overall communication plan.
Such as, do you want to do roadshow events in offices? Do you want to hold a webinar series? Are you focused more on training and putting together help guides?
By having these activities planned out, understand the channels best suited for them and which audience groups to deliver them to it helps to garget your communication plan and messaging.
Measuring your success
To understand whether your communication is having an impact on employees, you need to measure.
You need measurement tactics in place.
- Quantitative measurement
- Qualitative measurement
Quantitative measurement is looking at the hard evidence of communication engagement. The number of clicks, the number of emails read. How many likes, comments and shares you get on social media. How many times your article has been viewed on the intranet.
You can also look at quantitative measurement outside of communication channels.
For example, following a wellbeing campaign, these are some of the statistics I’d look at:
- Absence and sickness leave stats
- Percentage of uptake for counselling and therapy
- Number of signups to training courses
- Percentage of uptake for health check-ups
- Number of Employee Assistance Programme calls
These will help to understand whether your campaign has been a success.
Qualitative measurement looks at the sentiment. This is done through focus groups, one-to-one meetings and interviews, phone calls, feedback from employee engagement surveys.
In your measurement, look at the outputs, out-takes and outcomes of your communication.
Governance and sign off
To reduce the lead time and sign off of your communication, set up a robust sign off process in place.
All your stakeholders will want to know what you’re doing, so it mitigates the amount of time you have to spend on reviews, rewrites, and signoffs, put in clear governance stating which communication should be seen by which stakeholders.
Not all stakeholders need to see all communication.
Here’s an example:
- Gathering information with help of the project team, department and stakeholders
- Communication specialist (or whoever is drafting the content) compiles information and drafts communication
- Campaign team reviews communication
- Comms specialist (or whoever is drafting the content) updates communication following feedback
- Final review and sign off from campaign sponsor, director
- Communication is sent out
This clear and simple process will help to reduce lead times and get your communication out in a timely fashion.
Setting out your communication plan
With all the communication strategic elements now in place, a foundation set and a narrative devised, your communication plan can be created which is fully aligned to your business and project strategies.
When working on campaigns and projects, certain set factors need to be included in the communication plan, such as the campaign launch date, training dates, solution launch.
Plot these into your communication plan, then work around what people need to know and do before these factors happen. This is where you’re able to focus your communication on awareness, understanding, action and advocacy.
Then it is repetition, repetition, repetition. People start to take note of communication when they have been seen three, four, five times. You need to repeat your key messages, the strategic narrative, the benefits, the WIIFM factors constantly and consistently.
Remember, the communication plan is not set in stone. It will change as the campaign and project development and new factors and situation context comes into play.
This is an in-depth look at what you need to do to put together an insight-led communication campaign.
Out of all the steps, they all lead you to develop and delivering creative and effective communication through the use of extensive data analysis.
Without this data, your interpretation and semantics of the situation and context, your communication will not have the impact, reach or outcome you want.
Do the prep work properly to ensure your success and best result.